Title: Isabel's Car Wash
Author: Sheila Bair
Illustrator: Judy Stead
Publisher: Albert Whitman & Company
Flesch-Kinkaid Grade Level: 4.2
Concepts: profit, risk, entrepreneur, service, saving
Review: Isabel Dinero, a resourceful child with good ideas, has a dilemma. The doll she wants more than anything else in the world has gone on sale for ten dollars, but Isabel has only fifty cents to her name. Undaunted, she decides to earn the money by holding a car wash. After all, the recent spate of bad weather had left many car owners with dirty cars and long lines at the car wash. As a budding entrepreneur, Isabel soon encounters a stumbling block: she needs five dollars to purchase special car-washing soap and towels before she can start her business. Her solution is to borrow a dollar from each of her five friends, with the promise that she will pay them back from the profits, plus a small extra amount. Will Isabel’s friends see a return on their investment to compensate them for the risk they are taking?
This superb book, written by the current chair of the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation and one of the most influential women in the business world, provides an excellent opportunity to improve the financial literacy of young children. Sophisticated ideas such as financial risk, entrepreneurship, and profits are carefully woven into an enjoyable story that children will understand. The bright, cheerful illustrations further contribute to the book’s appeal. With the financial crisis having made headlines all over the world, this book could not come at a better time.
Review by: Rutgers University Project on Economics and Children